Every day, many people ask us which foods are beneficial or harmful for their dogs, among them of course being yogurt. Ever since holistic veterinary medicine began, based mainly in the administration and supervision of foods with beneficial properties for our dogs, canine nutrition has changed dramatically.
All this, combined with new veterinary specialties like canine nutritionists, makes us wonder about many things, such as which foods we can and cannot give to our dogs. We all know (or should know) that grapes are toxic, and fruit seeds are poisonous; nevertheless, dogs can eat melon, watermelon, apples and peaches with no problem. It’s even recommended (as long as it’s without pits/seeds). You can see a clear example here: Beneficial fruits for dogs.
But… what about yogurt? Can they eat it or not? The answer is quite simple and at the same time complicated: yes and no. We’ll explain it in detail so you understand how and when they can eat yogurt.
Dogs can’t drink cow’s milk. The lactose it contains is very harmful for them and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, parasites (worms) in their digestive tract and even serious allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.
Yogurt is a product that hardly contains any lactose; the same bacteria that make the yogurt are responsible for digesting the lactose in the milk. In scientific terms, this means that yogurt contains a very low dose of lactose that shouldn’t cause problems for your dog.
But that doesn’t mean that all dogs can eat it. For example, spaniels have a very poor tolerance of lactose even in very small amounts, so it’s a good idea to find information on your dog’s breed and how they tolerate yogurt.
What kind of yogurt can dogs eat?
You should buy plain yogurt, with or without bifidus bacteria. You must avoid at all costs flavored or sweetened yogurt or yogurt with pieces of fruit mixed in. In our humble opinion, plain low fat yogurt with bifidus is the best option.
What benefits does yogurt have for dogs?
A lot, so many that it’s one of the most recommended foods. It’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, vitamins and tons of beneficial bacteria. It helps control yeast in the digestive tract and maintain a healthy and strong intestinal flora.
When your dog takes antibiotics for medical reasons, antibiotics don’t just kill the harmful bacteria or virus; they normally also kill the good bacteria that are necessary for your dog. This is why many people add yogurt to their dog’s food when they are taking antibiotics.
As we said, as long as your dog tolerates yogurt well, it’s an excellent nutritional supplement.
How much yogurt should they eat and how?
The recommended amounts are always merely guidelines, ranging from a tablespoon per day in small to medium sized dogs to half a yogurt in large dogs. This can be done three or four days per week.
You can give them the yogurt by itself or mixed with their normal food (dog food or meat). But, as we said, these measurements are just guidelines. We know of cases where dogs eat yogurt every day and are healthy as a horse, and others who just eat it a couple times per week and also have excellent health.
What precautions should I take?
Intolerance is one of the problems to watch for. If you’ve never given your dog yogurt before, start by giving him a small teaspoon along with his food and wait until the next day to see how it sits with him.
If he has diarrhea, vomiting, or any strange reaction, then your dog probably didn’t tolerate that small amount of lactose and you should see your veterinarian.
If nothing happens (which is more likely), your dog can eat yogurt. Common sense is your best tool to determine if your dog can or cannot eat yogurt.